Jason M. Houck
Jason M. Houck, Assemblages of Salamanders (Family Plethodontidae) In CWA 305(b) Fully-Supporting, Partially-Supporting, and Non-Supporting Streams On Walden’s Ridge, Tennessee
Faculty Chair: Dr. Gary Litchford
Surface mining throughout the southeastern United States leading to acid mine drainage (AMD) has caused significant declines in plethodontid salamander communities in AMD affected streams. The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires that each navigable body of water in the United States be assigned a use designation and a support status based upon the stream's use designation and how it is affected by local pollution to be published in the CWA 305(b) report. Three streams on the Cumberland Escarpment, outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee, representing CWA 305(b) fully supporting, partially-supporting, and non-supporting status were surveyed for aquatic plethodontid salamanders. Plethodontid salamanders were collected in a non destructive manner using coverboards and visual encounter surveys from April 2002 to October 2002. Wilcoxon's Signed Ranks Tests indicated that there was a significant difference in the abundance of plethodontid salamanders in the fully-supporting stream when compared to both the partially-supporting and non-supporting streams, while there was no significant difference between the partially-supporting and non-supporting streams. Aquatic salamanders were observed to be affected by AMD in the streams surveyed. These results suggest that a biotic survey coupled with the established abiotic testing may be necessary to adequately assess CWA 305(b) support status.